Leadership

Daily Buzz: Don’t Be Afraid to Talk About Diversity

By / Nov 12, 2019 (Rawpixel/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Don’t let fear hold you back from having important conversations about D+I. Also: ways to show member appreciation without the swag.

Talking about diversity and inclusion should be a positive conversation, but for many leaders, it’s riddled with fear.

“Leaders are so terrified about messing up and saying the wrong thing to all their stakeholders—employees, board members, funders, clients, customers—or the wider world via social media—that they’re paralyzed into inaction,” writes Daisy Auger-Dominguez, a workplace culture and D+I expert, on Harvard Business Review.  Often, this comes off as neglect.

So, don’t give in to fear. Auger-Dominguez recommends these three strategies to help get the conversation started:

Ask questions.  “Genuine inquiry can promote trusting relationships and a safe, respectful, and supportive work environment even in times of complex change,” she says. “And because you don’t have to pretend you’re more knowledgeable about these topics than you already are, asking questions can also help you overcome uncomfortable silences and awkward exchanges regarding power and privilege.”

Do your research. It’s OK not to be a D+I expert. But you should take time to educate yourself and read up on topics such as racism and sexism to make sure you are making informed decisions.

Lean into the discomfort. The only way to address diversity challenges is to tackle them head-on. “Push yourself to communicate candidly about difficult topics. Accept that you are never going to be perfect,” Auger-Dominguez says. “Apologize and admit your mistakes and blind spots, express gratitude when someone corrects you, listen to those who have been injured or silenced, and commit to doing better. Then pick yourself up, go out there again, and do better.”

No Gifts, Please

Members make your association what it is, and it’s important to recognize them for their contributions to your community. But gifts aren’t the only way to do that. Instead of piling on the swag, try a more meaningful way to show your appreciation, such as a member spotlight in your next newsletter.

“Member spotlights give you an opportunity to not only recognize the hard work they’ve put into helping to grow the community, but it gives you an opportunity to create greater connectivity between your community members by elevating their profile,” says Marjorie Anderson on Community By Association.

Other ideas: Start an ambassador program, or have members contribute to your association’s blog. When members are more involved in your mission, they’ll feel like they’re making a bigger contribution to the cause.

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Sophia Conforti

Sophia Conforti is a contributor to Associations Now. More »

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